Performance Tax Bill Introduced – NYSBA Opposes

Congressmen Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the American Music Fairness Act  (H.R. 4130) which would impose a performance royalty payable on over-the-air broadcasts by radio stations. The money collected would be paid to performing artists and record labels.  This new royalty would be in addition to the royalties paid by radio stations to composers and publishing companies through ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and GMR.  The bill proposes graduated rates for free over the air non-subscription broadcasts:

  • Each station earning less than $100,000 per calendar year – $10 per year
  • Each public broadcasting entity earning more than $100,000 but less than $1.5 million – $100 per year
  • Each commercial broadcast station earning more than $100,000 but less than $1.5 million – $500 per year.
  • An individual station earning $1.5 million or more a year, whose parent company earns $10 million or more shall pay a performance fee set by the Copyright Royalty board.

We have significant concerns with this legislation.  Under current law, stations pay performance fees for any content that is streamed.  It is simply unfair to force stations to pay an additional fee for that portion of our media service that is offered to the public for free.   During COVID you did not see the music industry lowering any of its copyright fees.  On the other hand, local stations remained on the air, with significantly reduced revenues, bringing life-saving information to the community.  From a public policy perspective, it makes little sense to impose an additional burden on the provision of a free service.  To the contrary, policy should be directed at promoting free over the air service to the public.

For decades local radio broadcasts have provided more than $2 billion in annual promotions to artists.  This trade-off has worked well for the recording industry and the artists.  Today, artists and record companies still clamor to have their songs played on the radio.

Radio stations provide an important economic stimulus to local markets across New York.  Imposing a performance fee takes revenue out of local businesses and transfers this revenue to companies that are not only out of state, but also out of the country.  This is revenue that can be used to provide local news and public affairs.  Creating a new performance fee makes no sense in an era when we are trying to preserve local journalism and stimulate local economies.

Accordingly, we opposed the so called American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130)  We strongly support the local Local Radio Freedom Act (H. Con. Res. No. 33) .

To see a copy of the Local Radio Freedom Act click HERE.

To see the newly introduced American Music Fairness Act (H.R. 4130), click HERE.


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